Bundesbank's Jens Weidmann Says ECB's Bond Buys Could Jeopardize Its Independence

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02/12/2019 | 09:56 am

By Tom Fairless

German central-bank president Jens Weidmann renewed his criticism of the European Central Bank's signature stimulus policy on Tuesday, warning that the large-scale purchase of government bonds could jeopardize the ECB's cherished independence.

Mr. Weidmann's comments underscore the potential for a course change by the ECB should the German succeed Mario Draghi, an Italian, as ECB president in November. Mr. Weidmann is among a handful of unofficial candidates for the job, according to European officials.

Speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, Mr. Weidmann warned that eurozone central banks had become the most important creditors to their governments as a result of the ECB's 2.5 trillion euro ($2.825 trillion) bond-buying program, known as quantitative easing. That exposure might ultimately call the ECB's independence into question, he said.

"We are not superheroes," Mr. Weidmann said. "Our powers are limited...We cannot lift long-term growth."

Write to Tom Fairless at tom.fairless@wsj.com

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